I have never worn nor purchased a pair of smooth shoes since I only dance the smooth dances at parties and social events. Up to this point I have only danced the smooth dances in my rhythm shoes. For competition, however, which is the favored brand of smooth shoe? What style is preferred and also, how high and wide should the heel be on a competitive smooth shoe? Moreover, should a smooth shoe fit tightly and be a few sizes smaller than your normal shoe size as a rhythm shoe would typically be? Thanks!
When buying dance shoes there is no 1 rule that fits all people/all shoe brands. When I started out I was told the hard rule was to go down a 1/2 size. I spent $200 on a beautiful pr of smooth shoes that left me crippled in less than 30 mins. When I was trying them on I said they were really tight. I was told "Oh No THAT'S The Way They Should Fit." The deal was the shoe seller did not want to take back a size 10.5 lady shoe (brand new just tired on). It was an expensive lesson for me. Oh and I wear a size 11 street shoe and I wear a size 11 in every ballroom shoe I've tried on.
As you know all feet are different and bands fit differently - you NEED to try on the different styles/brand. If you have a long middle toe then you will need more of a pointy toe shoe. If you toes are sort of squared off, a rounded toe is going to feel better.
The heel height is what YOU can comfortably dance in and what YOU can control. If you have great body control on the dance floor in 3" heels - then go for them. Many girls/ladies dance in 2.5" heels. Those ladies in their 60's and 70's usually dance in the short, thick Cuban heels. Now saying that be sure to check out the heel thickness. You can get shoe heels in stiletto all the way down to wide for more stability.
As far a shoe color. If you have light skin you need to go with flesh tone or tan. If you have darker skin you need to go with copper.
Very Fine is an inexpensive brand that has a competitive shoe line with good padding. http://www.veryfineshoes.com/LadiesStandardSmooth
Souldancer shoes is a great line that has wonderful padding. http://www.souldancerusa.com/shoes/www/allshoes.asp?cat=lm Personally I love the #160. Karizamah Dance Shoes has had these made in flesh and copper.
I would caution you about buying dance shoes on Ebay. Yes you can get pretty shoes for $30, but you have NO idea of the quality or the padding. Shoe designs are copied by ALL companies. Most dance shoe companies have their shoes made in China. YEP even Supadacance shoes are stamped Made In China. Now just because it is made in China does not make it good OR bad. There are different levels of quality (padding) for the shoe styles. That's why it's important to go with a competitive shoe. Yes they will cost a bit more, but you feet will approve of the extra padding.
I would check into a shoe store that sells ballroom shoes. If there are none in your area and assuming your in the U.S. I can recommend Karizmah Dance Shoes, they do sell on line. As long as the shoes are not worn or damaged you can return what does not fit. http://www.karizmahdanceshoes.com/
Smooth shoes are not the same as rhythm shoes. They need to fit like a glove but they shouldn't hurt you. In latin your toes spill over the top in smooth they are closed and so they are alot harder to get just right.
Your feet shouldn't move around inside but they also shouldn't hurt. If you kick...which you will in smooth the shoe needs to not come off. It's one of those inbetween things.
You don't want a real high heel because of the way you use your feet in smooth. If the heel is too high you won't be able to do your heel leads correctly.
There is no preferred brand per say to compete in. Buy the shoe that is right for you. Don't even think about buying it until you try it on and dance around in it a little. There are a lot of brands...same ones you were looking at for rhythm. The point is to get the shoe for you....judges aren't checking out the name brands on your footwear. They don't have time. There are always too many couples on the floor to be bothered...your real focus and money is best directed on two or three other things.
1. Buy a great dress that really fits you and really makes you stand out. There are a ton of designers...no one is really preferred just buy one that is going to really work with your personality and the way you dance. If you don't catch anyones attention then it won't matter how well you dance.
2. Spend your money on lessons from a good instructor. I'm going to be brutal here...if your instructor doesn't know about shoes and hasn't been able to direct you to what you should be wearing he isn't who you should be dancing with. If he is going to charge you to compete with him or if you are an amateur couple being trained by a pro don't you think he should be more experienced than this? This is supposed to be his bread and butter...why doesn't he know this? Why isn't he telling you this? I don't mind helping...don't get me wrong. I just don't want you to get ripped off by someone who is unscrupulous.